From Knob Twirling to Guitar Playing
CoC interviews Fredrik Nordstrom of Dream Evil
by: Adrian Bromley
Change is good.

If you don't believe me, just ask Fredrik Nordstrom (producer of some of most groundbreaking releases from heavies like Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, and At the Gates), and he'll tell you that breaking away from what you do normally from time to time, taking that step towards change, makes life that much more enjoyable.

"It wasn't that hard for me to go from working with bands and running my own studio [Studio Fredman] to doing this", starts Nordstrom about his leap from behind the production board to guitar player in heavy metal group Dream Evil, who have just released their Century Media debut _Dragon Slayer_. "Years ago, before the studio was going, I was teaching music to kids. I basically quit that job to work full-time at running the studio. Eventually as the years went on and I worked with bands like Ceremonial Oath, In Flames and At the Gates to name a few, I kind of forgot about the music I was playing and wanted to explore. <laughs> When I opened my studio I wanted to make my own album eventually, and that never happened. I had a band a few years ago that used to play around and do covers, and then a few years back I guess the idea of Dream Evil came about and it just ignited my interest once again to play music and make some original music."

"From that excitement of starting a band things just grew for Dream Evil. Next thing I knew, I was writing songs and the people I had played the music to were excited that it was "heavy metal". I was excited too."

And then came the formation of the band...

"I met Gus G. (guitarist) while in Greece and he told me he was planning to come and visit Sweden; so when he did, we hooked up and started writing songs. I had only planned for this to be a studio project, but I needed a singer, so I called Niklas [Istfeldt; backing vocalist for HammerFall] and he came down to sing for us. He was telling me how great the songs were and that we needed to form a band, so he called Peter [bassist; Stalfors] and he came down. Then we needed a drummer and eventually recruited Snowy Shaw. It was a strange way for a band to come together, but it worked out."

He adds, "This was the right time for me to do this band because I found the right people. I don't expect this band to be hugely successful as, say, Blind Guardian or In Flames. I mean, In Flames tours for like six months a year and I am not sure I am prepared to sacrifice my family and studio work for that."

When Nordstrom and Dream Evil started demoing the material and sending it to labels, did Nordstrom find people to be very receptive to his new band or were they very pessimistic about the idea of a band working out for Nordstrom?

He laughs. "I didn't care what people were thinking about the music, really. I know I was proud of it, so that was all that was important to me", he says. "I played a lot of the music to musicians who were recording in my studio; a lot of them really liked it. Response from the bands was always good, so I pursued it. I had even thought about approaching Alexi Laiho [Children of Bodom, Sinergy] to play guitar for us."

Oh man, I am glad you didn't. I hate his bands and I think he isn't all that good of a guitar player. Just flashy.

"Really? I think he is a great person and a great guitar player. I understand that you are not a fan, but it would have been interesting had he played with us, don't you think?"

I guess so...

About the making of the record, he comments, "I just wanted to make a record that was very simple. I wanted to make a record that fans of heavy metal music would like and want to hear. I have seen a lot of bands that get so involved with their recording in the studio that they just seem to lose grip of what is going on. I know what fans want to hear and I went out of my way to make a record that delivered the goods to them. I've always written heavy metal music and I was glad that I could do that with Dream Evil. It just felt right."

Heavy metal music seems to be timeless, really, don't you think? I mean, even now I can put on an Iron Maiden album (i.e. 1983's _Piece of Mind_) and still feel like I had just put it on for the first time.

"I still remember being a teenager and buying all those records. I love that era of metal. I just want to play that stuff. I love writing and working with this type of music or music that is very melancholic. We're all fans of the heavy metal era, so it shouldn't be a surprise that when we got together this is the music that came out of it. It wasn't a decision to make this type of music, it just happened that way. HammerFall really opened the door for this kind of music. Four or five years ago the heavy metal scene was dead and now it is very vibrant."

_Dragon Slayer_ is getting a lot of rave reviews. Not bad for a debut disc. Does that surprise you, how people are reacting to your music?

"Yeah, we have gotten so many great reviews for this album and I couldn't be happier. I would say mostly everyone is into what we are doing, though there was one funny review that said, "Fredrik, stay behind the console." <laughs> It made me laugh and it doesn't hurt me. People have a right to react how they want to my music and it just makes me happy to see people feel the same way about Dream Evil as I do."

With the next record, is the band more confident with what they can do now, seeing as though the first album is behind them?

"I'm actually a bit nervous", he reveals. "I mean, I know how we sound now, but I am not sure where we are going to take it. I think it will be similar, but I think the music will build from the ideas that we did this last time. I also want the studio experience to be pretty much the same, not too technical. I see bands coming in all the time and sweating and fighting over music because they can't get the right parts down, etc. Gus is a very technical player and when he comes in with ideas that I think are too difficult to work with I have him make them a little simpler."

In other news, Nordstrom's wife recently gave birth to a baby boy (this interview was rescheduled twice because of the birth) and while he couldn't be happier welcoming a new addition to the family, he admits that there is some struggling going on to keep a balance with his family life and his role as a producer and musician.

"It is quite hard to juggle the family life with my job as a producer and musician, but it is working out", he ends off. "I'm my own boss and I can pretty much set my own times. It works out in the end and I can pretty much handle both at the same time without major complications. Both music and my family are very important to me and I will do my best to make sure both get all the attention they need."

(article submitted 1/9/2002)

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